Monday, April 22, 2013

Earth Day 101

Happy Earth Day! Does anyone else remember it being a teaching opportunity back in Elementary School?  I never took it very seriously until I actually became an adult.  My family never really took into consideration the amount of plastic waste we produced and so it wasn't until I was on my own and had the opportunity to prevent waste did I actually take some time to learn about it.  
After we dive into more details on great ways to leave less of a carbon footprint, you will find the winner of the eBook copy of The Great Gatsby.

I'm still learning more about ways to live a greener lifestyle, so if you recommend specific resources or great reads- definitely leave a comment below!

In terms of recycling, it's actually really tricky where we live because they don't actively pick up glass or plastic.  My response? You're kidding me, right?  What is the first thing you learn about recycling as a little kid...plastic counts.  From my experience, this city in Montana isn't very green-friendly which is a little annoying since Montana has some of the most beautiful natural landscapes you can still view in the U.S.  

What are some ways you can combat this?
What are you throwing away?
This can be difficult for people because plastic packaging is such a natural part of our lives.  It's the plastic wrapper on our Cliff Bar or the plastic seal on the top of our coffee to go.  If you're serious about cutting back on the amount of plastic waste you use, take the time to record or monitor what things in your life are made of plastic.  A great recommendation that I read in a recent issue of Real Simple is to reduce the size of your garbage/recycling cans.  It's so easy just to throw things out but if your garbage bag is filling up quickly, you take notice and it may help you realize exactly what you're throwing away.

Use less packaging
When you go grocery shopping, pay attention to the packaging of the products you buy.  Yes, buying the individually separated portions of chicken breasts makes life easier for a few minutes but that is a lot of extra plastic waste.  If you have the opportunity to buy in bulk without food going to waste, consider using more plastic containers aka Tupperware.  This is perfect for either storing food inbetween prepping for meals or packing lunches.  How many sandwich baggies have you found yourself throwing away?  Realistically I'm not going to reuse a plastic sandwich bag.  These LunchSkins sandwich bags are a great alternative.  You can also find tutorials online to make your own.  Love to drink water?  Carry a reusable water bottle with you!  Camelbaks are so popular because of "bite and suck" straws, but use whatever system works for you.  There are several different brands and products out there, some more eco-friendly than others but as long as you're throwing away less, that's less in the landfills or being burned to add to the air. 

 Re-use, save, and recycle!
I'm notorious for having plastic, disposable water bottles around me.  I know, tsk tsk, but it tends to be easier for me when it comes to my work.  I do however save them and have them to fill up in my car when I do have access to a water fountain.  When you're done with them or they're starting to trash up your car, remember to recycle!  Does your workplace promote recycling?  See if your company can put in a few more containers that are dedicated to recycling only.  Make sure everyone turns off lights when they're done using a room.  Unplug devices that aren't being used.  Turn down the heat/air when you're not home.  Guess what? There's even an app for that!  Depending on the area, turning in recyclables can even score you a little $$. I always thought that fraternities should totally cash in on that, especially with the metal tabs on beer cans. ;)

Instead of tossing out old clothes, blankets, home accessories, consider donating them.  You can always donate them to your local Goodwill or consider a Women & Children's shelter.  They often are looking for additional supplies, hygiene products, and toys for children.  What I like to tell myself is that the less stuff that I have, the less I need to clean.  Apart from that, it really helps and benefits other people.  Those set of dishes that are just taking up space can be donated to a thrift shop for another family who could actually use them.  If you live near a military base, see if there are any programs that contribute to military families.  In the Air Force we have the Airman's Attic.  For our youngest of enlisted members across all branches, their wages are often really tight to their family needs.  It means so much to all of us when our community helps.  One team, one fight :)

For the ladies out there, there are a couple ways to be greener around your time of the month.  When you think about it, menstrual pads and tampons add a lot of garbage around the world every single year.  It's not like that's a problem that can really be altered.  However, you can be greener about it.  If you prefer tampons, consider using a menstrual cup.  A menstrual cup, like the brand Diva Cup, is a reusable cup that works through suction.  This may be TMI for some ladies, but while tampons soak, a menstrual cup catches.  From here, you clean it yourself.  Overtime it will save you thousands of dollars.  I'm a user of it myself and I love this product.  A woman can change a pad or tampon 4+ times a day and that can be anywhere from a couple of days to a week.  For me, I didn't like the idea of adding that much garbage when there are alternative solutions.  You can also use a reusable cloth pad.  Party in my Pants is one company that produces these cloth pads.  Much like a disposable pad, it works the exact same way.  You can add additional liners depending on your preference and they have fun styles and designs.  All you have to do is add it to your laundry load.   

I don't have any kids yet but I also plan on using reusable diapers.  Like being greener about your period, using reusable diapers is not only Earth-friendly but budget friendly.  Even with our dogs now, we don't use potty pads because that would produce waste anywhere from a perfect day with 0 accidents to 5+.  I always advocate using older towels and a lot of patience.

Hopefully these are helpful tips for your household.  I know that I'm still on making my lifestyle greener and still figuring out recycling with this city.  

What are ways that you make your lifestyle Earth-friendly?

The winner of the eBook copy of The Great Gatsby:

Congratulations to Lori!

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  1. Ah I love this post! Earth Day is such a great reminder to be more conscious of the planet we live on and I'm so glad bloggers are getting in on it!

  2. I feel lucky that my city recycles and even gave me a HUGE (like same size as my garbage can) recycling bin. They pick it up every other week. And my office recycles too. One more note, if you have a Whole Foods near you, they accept the #5 plastic packaging. My cottage cheese and yogurt containers are #5, along with Britta filters, so I save those in a paper bag and bring them to Whole Foods.


  3. Great post! I'd never heard of the Diva Cup before but now I'm going to check it out!
    Sincerely, Sara